So, in spite my umming and arring until the 11th hour, Saffron Director finally convinced me to make the pilgrimage to Pitti Uomo for the bi-annual dose of schmoozing and glad-handing. Given the opportunity, she said, she herself would jump at the opportunity to go to Florence and leave the family behind; so we went ahead and booked our flight (well, mine not ‘ours’ – the saucepan lids were not left to fend for themselves I can assure you) to bear witness to the spectacle that is the sartorial equivalent of a mafia wedding, according to my mother – who apparently knows about these things.
Sub-zero temperatures did nothing to stem the large crowds nor the obligatory peacocking, which was in overdrive given the additional accessory of overcoats given the time of year, which peacocks and the cognoscenti alike enjoy draping across their shoulders like gangsters.
The art of people watching comes into it’s own at Pitti and as I am merely a tourist, it is all about absorbing the what and the how of peoples style; whether sartorial or high-fashion. In fact, I have not been so inspired by casual wear as I have since my recent trips to Florence and more recently Naples. There are many reasons for this I am sure, not least that some of the streetwear exhibitors at Pitti include brands that were hugely influential and sought after during my childhood, such as Diadora, Kappa, Ellesse and Moon Boot to name a few. A stroll through the hall of the exhibition hosting the aforementioned brands is like a stroll down memory lane for this South London boy from the 70’s – the era which effectively killed-off the suit. The irony.
But what has become evident to me, is that Italians do not adhere to a rigid code of dress as we Brits do. Here in Blighty, it often appears that we gravitate toward one mode of dress or another i.e. very smart of very cas’(ual): read scruffy.
Those natty Italians, however, do not discriminate between smart and or casual and are seemingly able to wear either not only with ease but also aplomb. Shining examples of this would be one of my sartorial heroes Alessandro Squarzi who owns the shop Fortela in Milan and who wears a suit as well as he does a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and Converse!
And I would make the pilgrimage to Florence just to disembark at my favourite train station, Santa Maria Novella – It’s bauhaus-style architecture juxtaposing so magnificently with the mid-century and medieval architecture found in the rest of the city – and to eat as much of the local delicacy, Fiorentina steak as one’s body will allow – a lot less it transpires, but such is middle age.
The shops, boutiques, wine bars and restaurants are some of the best shop fronts I’ve witnessed anywhere. I would not be surprised if I dedicate most of my picture taking-time to them and the Florentine architecture. Street level emporiums and watering holes housed In three storey historical buildings invite you in through their plate glass frontages, all framed with Crittal-style galvanised steel. Wonderful.
And what of current trends? Well, pleats were in abundance as I anticipated they might be given that on our last tour of duty we bore witness to looser cuts in chinos, some even bearing pleats. And I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the movers and shakers sporting double-pleats in their trousers. Bravo!
We also witnessed first-hand some of the different styles of tailoring between the various regions; the unabashed ease and, dare I say it, dishevelled appearance of Neapolitan tailoring in comparison to the more structured cut and style of Florentine and Milanese tailoring. Of course, each house has their own style but I would say that these regional styles would be the most distinguishable.
My own search for an Italian sartoria (workshop) who can cut a deconstructed Italian coat for Brown in Town to add to our classic English cut, also proved fruitful. It is my desire to offer a choice of cut and construction as we do a choice of accoutrements from our atelier, offering both English and Italian ties, braces and squares.
And it is impossible to attend such an event without feeling like a kid in a candy store when there are so many wonderful products to entice you. Whilst now is not the time, we hope that once we launch our e-commerce platform, we might be able to increase our current offering of accessories to include socks and cufflinks, possibly luggage.
Watch this space..
*Photo by The Trend Spotter.net